City council is not interested in another public forum to discuss the final list of recommendations from the core services review.
During last night's meeting, Canadian Union of Public Employees local 1048 president addressed council to invite them to a community-organized townhall meeting to discuss the report to be delivered by KPMG at the end of the week.
The discussion, to be held at College of New Caledonia on Nov. 13, is an opportunity for the public to have the ear of mayor and council as a whole on what they like and don't like from the consultant's report, said Bigelow.
"We understand that council has spent a lot of time, energy and money on this core services review. You've tried many different ways to give residents of Prince George the opportunity to be heard," Bigelow said, calling the upcoming meeting one more avenue for the public to give their input.
"Yes, there have been surveys, emails and two forums that were facilitated by KPMG. The one thing that has been lacking is the opportunity for the community to speak directly to mayor and council as a whole," Bigelow said. "Communities work best when their elected officials are listening and that's what this evening's about."
But having the mayor and council as a whole at a community conversation raised a red flag for Coun. Dave Wilbur, who raised the issue of a legal obstacle by having enough of the group engaged in dialogue outside of council chambers. Quorum for council is five members.
"There's much case law which indicated that's problematic for us," Wilbur said.
City corporate officer Walter Babicz explained that depending on the intent of a gathering, if there is an exchange of views between council members then it fits the definition of a council meeting.
"And if it fits the definition of a council meeting then the gathering needs to, or ought to, have taken place in accordance with all the rules of a meeting," Babicz said. "Failing that, then it puts the ultimate decision of council at risk of being attacked."
Wilbur said while he was happy to discuss the report on a one-on-one basis, he would not be attending the townhall.
Cameron Stolz - who sits on the select committee on a core services review with Mayor Shari Green, and fellow councillors Albert Koehler and Frank Everitt - pointed out that the committee required an increase in public engagement from the consultants and that there are no shortage of people stopping him in the streets or through other means to give their input on the process.
He said he was offended by the suggestion that council hasn't engaged with the public.
"The time frame for engagement has been anytime over the previous six months," Stolz said. "The fact that people are trying to make political hay out of this now, I find absolutely reprehensible."
Krause said he admired the amount of energy the union and members of the I Heart PG campaign had put into coming before council, but that council members were always accessible to members of the public.
He said the release of KPMG's final report and subsequent discussion will be an interesting time and that he is looking forward to the debate.
"And I look forward to having that debate in these council chambers, where I think it's the best place to have it," Krause said. "The hard decisions will be made in this room. I'm committed to doing the right thing, I'm committed to listening to the community."
Green said she was also opting not to attend.
"The conversation around the opportunities list has already occurred and in a manner that was approved by us and in a format that was approved by us," Green said, adding that Bigelow had come before council numerous times through the core review process.
"You've demonstrated there is an avenue and a venue for the public to come if they need to speak to mayor and council as a whole and it's in this chamber," she said.
Bigelow said she was disappointed by council's response. Out of those in attendance, only Coun. Brian Skakun firmly indicated desire to attend the Nov. 13 event.
She said there wouldn't be any attempts to lobby council or even engage them in discussion at CNC, but rather for them to come and listen.
"I would think they would want to take the opportunity to listen to the residents of Prince George after they had the final report out," she said. "I would think in most places where there's consultation on big decisions like this, there's consultation during but there's also consultation after. And once a group like KPMG comes forward with the opportunities people should be able to look at it and say, you know what, we don't like that opportunity because now they really know what they are."